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Something that just occurred to me and probably needs to be discussed - the balance needed between professional and enthusiast questions. There hasn't really been any problems here thus far, but this needs to be discussed.

Ultimately, any clear question, whether it takes an answerer 10 seconds to find on Wikipedia or such probably should be answered properly. I have seen on some other sites, where more learned members ridicule the questioner - the net result is often that , for better or worse, the questioner becomes discouraged and does not bother anymore. Whereas by modelling good answers and questions would more than likely help them.

If the question is badly written (unclear etc), downvote and flag/vote to close - public ridicule does not look good for the site at all. I'd be interested in what others have to say about this.

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I think this is a valid thing to discuss. First of all let me start out by saying that I personally do not know what the right balance between professional/enthusiast questions should be. I've always treated stack exchange sites as a resource for asking non-obvious questions having to do with a given topic. So in that sense (and because I'm a Ph.D student in a physics program), I'd hope that this site would turn into a place for young professionals, students, and others to come for help with more advanced issues. People who come asking questions like, 'Why does the moon orbit the earth?' are simply being lazy. Wikipedia is a perfect resource for things like that. They shouldn't be ridiculed, they should be (kindly) encouraged to not post things that could be found in a matter of seconds.

Bad questions however (meaning issues of ambiguity, clarity, grammar/spelling, etc..), can and should be taken care of through the normal stack exchange up/down vote mechanism.

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In my view, at present there are far too many questions that (a) could have been answered by reading wikipedia and/or another site that pops up straight away on a search or (b) are answered by cutting and pasting material from such sites - and sometimes by the same person.

I agree that ridicule is never appropriate, but I think it is appropriate to close questions that show insufficient basic research (eg answer could easily be found on wikipedia) or that fail to specify what it is about such sources that is puzzling or does not answer the question.

This SE will stand/fall by the quality and originality of its Q and A. In my opinion it is falling short compared with other SE sites.

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I think this is a strong function of the number of professionals that choose to regularly participate. The beta just opened yesterday, but I can see from the list of those that have signed up that we do not have too many professional astronomers/astrophysics involved (yet). I think that professional participation is the only way that this portal will avoid the fate of the previous Astronomy Stack Exchange, which suffered a slow death.

One of the Area 51 metrics for the success of a Stack Exchange portal is the number of answers per question, with 2.5 being the target, I think it makes sense for both professionals and enthusiasts to answer the same questions, as each answer would likely appeal to different target audiences. A seemingly simple enthusiast question can actually be quite difficult to answer correctly.

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